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Project Brokers’ Cox Highlights Ref Data and Risk Management Applications of Biz Intelligence Software

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In light of the current regulatory scrutiny of reference data, there has been a recent surge in the number of downstream data monitoring software solutions on the market and Project Brokers’ QlikView is a case in point. Daren Cox, CEO and managing director of the self-styled business intelligence consultancy, which was established back in 2005, speaks to Reference Data Review about various applications of the QlikView solution, including reference data quality tracking and credit and operational risk measurement.

Cox, who founded the consultancy firm back in 2005, after spending six years in Deutsche Bank’s IT department, indicates that his firm decided to become a reseller of the QlikView business intelligence solution in order to apply it intelligently to the financial services context. The idea behind the deal was therefore to use Project Brokers’ expertise in financial services IT to be able to find suitable applications for the business intelligence software. In terms of industry experience, Cox helped to create a software development and support organisation for Deutsche Bank’s Global Markets Sales Institutional Client Group (ICG) and worked on the firm’s reorganisation to outsource key elements of the larger Global Markets IT department to India and Russia during his time at the bank.

“We are able to understand the best applications for the QlikView solution in a financial services context due to our experience within these financial institutions and our consultancy expertise,” contends Cox. Project Brokers’ modus operandi is therefore to pick certain appropriate areas for QlikView to be applied in the operations and IT departments of investment banks and working with clients to implement the solution. This includes areas such as operational risk monitoring, credit risk, trade workflow monitoring and data quality management.

Cox notes that although 2008 was a tough year for growth due to the financial crisis, things have picked up over the last couple of years, allowing the firm to double in size in two consecutive years, to 55 people. He attributes this largely to the uptick in technology investment as a result of incoming regulation and a focus on risk management within the capital markets, and it is in these areas that the firm is targeting its solution and expertise.

Reference data quality is a key area in this endeavour and the firm has been working with one particular investment banking client – it has eight of the top 10 on its client list – to implement QlikView to monitor the firm’s legal entity data. A hot topic at the moment, given the recent consultation on the subject conducted around the US Office of Financial Research (OFR), many firms are attempting to improve the management of their client and counterparty data and Project Brokers is just one of the vendors aiming to capitalise on this development.

“Firms need to be able to identify a client across all their various systems, which contain many different identification standards, in order to be able to track counterparty risk and meet regulatory reporting requirements,” says Cox. “QlikView is able to gather this data together, map it and enable firms to analyse it in order to determine credit risk exposure.”

The firm worked on a bespoke project for a particular client to this end in late 2009 and early 2010, and Cox indicates that this experience and methodology could be applied to other similar projects in the future. The vendor is looking to build out a generic framework and process for such projects in the future, focused on the integration of client data across an organisation.

“One of the benefits of QlikView in a data quality context is that it is able to facilitate data analysis in a timely manner by highlighting duplicate data or inaccurately completed data fields,” elaborates Cox. This same logic can also be applied to data underlying risk calculations and Cox notes that credit and operational risk are two key areas for the vendor, where it is seeing considerable interest from clients.

In terms of credit risk, for example, the solution is able to handle what Cox calls the “billions of rows of data” needed to feed into credit risk calculations for a large financial institution. QlikView can then be used to provide a graphical layer for data analysis of this risk data, thus allowing a user to drill down to individual data items at the bottom.

Project Brokers is currently at a proof of concept stage with one of its large clients at the moment with regards to the application of the solution to between eight and nine billion rows of data, says Cox. However, the same theory has been used for much smaller risk data focused projects also.

“IT and data management teams are great at storing this data but they do not always provide business users with the tools to be able to understand and use this data, and this is where we come in,” says Cox. “Enabling users to drill down to the lowest level of detail.” He also suggests that business intelligence tools are more “democratic” in this way, by allowing all users, rather than just the exec team, to be able to access an operational dashboard for this data.

Cox indicates that in terms of growth, the plan for this year for Project Brokers is to expand beyond its current two bases in New York and London to Asia, likely in either Hong Kong or Singapore. The firm is also seeking to add the outstanding two global investment banks in the top 10 to its client roster in 2011, as well as picking up some tier two clients. Cox hopes that this will allow the vendor to double in size for a third consecutive year.

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